I finally got to check one particular item out of my bucket list - working out of Goa. This was possible purely because of freelancing which means I can be anywhere as long as I’m getting the work done.
When my wife and myself were planning this month-long road trip - driving from Bangalore to Mysore (so that I could run a half marathon) to Mulki (so that the wife can learn surfing in the ocean) to Goa, we charted out the course and stay, but I insisted we don’t book any hotels in Goa. “Why?” she asked, and I said I wanted to test travelling the way the foreigners do as I had written earlier. That turned out to be a great idea, because we found the perfect room for us - clean, spacious, reasonable tariff, separate entrance, undisturbed by neighbours, and most of all, we can see the beach and the ocean from the bed! And there was no way we could have ever found out about this place online when the owner was puzzled what “WiFi” means…
This was the view from our porch:
The owners even had a friendly cat:
The best part about having a room almost on the beach was the amazing evening walks after a long day of work and hot weather.
Of course, there had to be a “but.” It couldn’t be all perfect. I had a Reliance NetConnect+ as well as a Tata Photon+ connection. The former hardly worked throughout the trip after we left Bangalore, so I cancelled that. However, even the Tata Photon+ connection didn’t work in our room :( … after much calls and even a visit from a Vodafone personnel, it seemed that nobody gave connectivity towards the beach! How ironic for me when I said “All I need is my laptop and an Internet connection for me to work anywhere”… so we started searching for rooms in the main market area where we could get connectivity.
I literally held my laptop with the Photon+ USB stick attached and checking for signal at each place we checked out, heh! But the quality and location of rooms were pathetic. So I decided that we’ll continue to stay at our perfect room, so what about connectivity? Everyday morning, I drove 3–4 km to the main market area, parked the car, sat in the backseat, and had access to full Internet connectivity signal as long as the laptop battery lasted! Then, I would go back to the room and continue to work mostly offline - I connected my laptop to the WiFi hotspot from my Android phone and used the GPRS connection for the occasional technical searches I ended up doing. That was interesting for sure.
Two things I relearned - having a deadline (the battery is running out!) made me get more stuff done, and having no internet connectivity is good for your productivity (there, I said the P-word, hadn’t written about it in a long time! :-P)
Another aspect of the trip was the major expense - food. Initially, we ended up going to bad restaurants. Then, we resorted to the simplest trick in the travel book - ask the locals! The best restaurants we ended up going was Bed Rock, Infantaria and Jay Jays.
… as well as Cape Town Cafe which had great salads and fantastic live performances (on Tuesdays and Thursdays):
On days when my brain was tired, we would escape to nearby sights such as Fort Aguada:
Overall, I surprisingly did get a lot of work done and yet had fun in visiting places, enjoying the night life and the general relaxed atmosphere. We had got so used to it that we had difficulty in motivating ourselves to start our journey again from Goa!
After the three weeks were up, we continued our journey visiting places like Ambaulim Falls where I dunked my head in flowing cold water…
… and visiting a colourful Kolhapur, and so on.
Oh yeah, there was an unintended side-effect of writing about this trip - one fine day, my Dad called me up to tell me that I had received a snail-mail from the police that I jumped a traffic signal near Ulsoor on the very same day that we were on the beaches of Mulki, near Mangalore. I consulted a friend who advised me to email the head of traffic police which I promptly did and also included the blog links which had photos of us driving the very same car. A few days later, the Ulsoor traffic police inspector called me and said “nice pics” and informed me that the traffic violation ticket will be cancelled! (It was heartening to see that the entire process was over email and to note that the Bangalore traffic police is actually using modern ways to connect with citizens).
Update: Also see Traveling, Writing and Programming by the awesome Alex MacCaw.